The Rachel Maddow Show Weekdays at 9PM

Help

... more Duration: {{video.duration.momentjs}}

Rachel Maddow StoriesRSS

select from:

E.g., 7/22/2017
E.g., 7/22/2017
Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin responds to US President Donald Trump ordering missile strikes on Syria

Why is Putin being rewarded with a presidential meeting?

07/06/17 04:39PM

Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, and by all accounts, a variety of U.S. officials are concerned about whether the American leader is prepared for the discussion. Given what we know about Trump, those concerns appear well grounded.

But before we consider how the meeting will go, it's worth pausing to ask why the meeting is happening at all. When Putin invaded parts of Ukraine and annexed Crimea, the American response was to isolate Russia -- economically and diplomatically. And yet, tomorrow, Putin will nevertheless leave the penalty box and interact with the sitting American president. As Rachel put it on last night's show:

"From what is now our American perspective, how exactly has [Putin] earned his way out of that? How has he earned a face-to-face, full scale bilateral meeting with the U.S. president? What has he done to deserve that meeting and that respect?

"Other than launching a massive cyberattack on our presidential election last year? And threatening to shoot down U.S. jets over Syria just a couple of weeks ago, and sending their Russian fighter jets to buzz American ships and planes all over the world, and these new credible allegations that Russian firms are selling weapons and oil to North Korea as North Korea is shooting off an ICBM? Other than that, what has Putin done to earn this?"

The White House hasn't gone out of its way to explain why this meeting will take place, instead treating it as a rather routine diplomatic development. Except, it's not -- because American diplomacy with a country that launched the most serious attack on us since 9/11 is anything but routine.

Making matters worse, of course, is the fact that Putin is a seasoned head of state -- and a former KGB official -- preparing to engage the least experienced and least prepared American president in history, who, up until fairly recently, was a strange television personality.

read more

The sun rises near the White House on Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty)

After clashing with the White House, top ethics official resigns

07/06/17 02:21PM

Donald Trump's administration has only existed for about six months, but the number of officials who've resigned in frustration is growing.

In May, for example, Mike Dubke stepped down as the White House's communications director after only a few months on the job. A month later, David Rank resigned from the State Department's Foreign Service, ending a career in U.S. diplomacy that lasted nearly three decades and spanned five presidencies.

Earlier this week, Hui Chen gave up her post at the Justice Department's corporate crime unit, frustrated that the president is ignoring the same standards she demanded of those she investigated for criminal wrongdoing.

Today's resignation, however, is probably the biggest to date.

The ethics watchdog who has badgered the Trump administration for months about conflicts of interest says he is leaving the federal government.

Walter Shaub, director of the previously little-known Office of Government Ethics, made a name for himself by criticizing the administration repeatedly, most notably over Trump's refusal to sell his business interests.

Shaub told the Washington Post he wasn't leaving under pressure, adding that no one in the White House or the administration pushed him to resign. He conceded, however, that in this administration, "It's clear that there isn't more I could accomplish," he said.

Shaub, who's term was scheduled to end later this year, will take on a new role at the Campaign Legal Center.

"In working with the current administration, it has become clear that we need to strengthen the ethics program [in government]," he added to the Post.

read more

The Republican National Committee headquarters, Sept. 9, 2014. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Republicans try to get Democrats to write a health plan for them

07/06/17 01:05PM

Republicans in the White House and Congress have discovered overhauling the nation's health care system isn't as easy as they thought it'd be. This week, however, the Republican National Committee decided it'd be a good idea to turn the tables, demanding that congressional Democrats come up with their own blueprint. The Washington Post reported:

To state the obvious: Partisan video clips are not designed to make the other party look good. There's an art to these things. You compile the worst moments by the other team, or by an opponent, and try to make them go viral.

But a strange, flailing campaign by the Republican National Committee to demand a Democratic fix for the Affordable Care Act goes unusually far in misrepresenting what the opposition party is doing or saying.

The 83-second video features a variety of prominent progressive figures, including Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, acknowledging that they'd like to see changes to the status quo. The RNC believes these concessions are important: if Democrats agree there should be additional reforms, Dems have a responsibility to present their proposals.

Even by the RNC's standards, this is an odd line of argument. First, as the Post's report noted, the video edited out relevant context to make it look like "Democrats are not just evasive, but stumped when asked what they'd be willing to change to fix the ACA. That's not what's been happening."

Second, the challenge itself is flawed. Republicans control the levers of power in Washington, so asking Democrats to do what GOP officials have struggled to do -- present a comprehensive health care blueprint -- doesn't make a lot of sense. Indeed, when Democrats were in power and asked Republicans to present their own ACA alternative, Republicans took more than seven years to come up with a plan that, at least for now, can't pass and most of the country hates.

Third, as part of the public-relations offensive, the RNC said on Twitter yesterday, "Our healthcare system is collapsing, but Democrats refuse to bring anything to the table. Where's THEIR plan?" Putting aside the fact that the system isn't collapsing, Democrats haven't been invited to participate in policy deliberations. Whether the Republican National Committee understands this or not, Dems can't "bring anything to the table" because GOP leaders have effectively hidden the table.

read more

Thursday's Campaign Round-Up, 7.6.17

07/06/17 12:00PM

Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.

* Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) made it official today, telling the Nevada Independent that she's giving up her House seat to take on incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) next year. Rosen received encouragement from "Nevada's political godfather, Harry Reid."

* Politico reports that congressional Democratic leaders are working on a midterm-election agenda, called a "Better Deal," that is being "polled in battleground House districts," and "aims to convince voters that Democrats have more to offer than the GOP and the self-proclaimed deal-maker in the White House."

* In Oklahoma, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R) promised voters that, if elected, he'd retire after three terms in order to honor his commitment to the principle of term limits. This week, Mullin announced he'll seek a fourth term next year.

* In Texas, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) reportedly raised more than $1 million online in just two months in advance of his campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) next year. That's a decent haul given Cruz's odds of winning a second term.

* Speaking of fundraising, Randy Bryce‏, the Democratic candidate running to take on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) next year, raised $430,000 in just 12 days last month. That's pretty impressive, too.

read more

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Trump sticks to Obama's ISIS plan, but hopes it looks different

07/06/17 11:20AM

When Donald Trump claimed during the campaign to have a secret to plan to defeat ISIS "quickly and effectively," he was obviously lying. Indeed, as regular readers know, it's been clear for months that Trump's plan would mirror the Obama administration's plan -- the plan Trump said was a failure -- and Trump administration officials have little interest in abandoning Obama's strategy.

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump's "new" ISIS policy is nearly complete and it "looks very much like the one the Obama administration pursued."

With this in mind, the Daily Beast reported an interesting tidbit yesterday.

Trump's changes to the campaign so far have been tactical -- namely, giving the military more autonomy to strike, including special operators. But the effectiveness of the current Obama-era strategy of attacking ISIS via local forces together with allies calls into question whether there's a need for more dramatic revision.

That's presented a dilemma for those working on the Trump anti-ISIS strategy and slowed its public unveiling, U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast. The White House has asked defense officials to come up with new ideas to help brand the Trump campaign as different from its predecessor, according to two U.S. officials and one senior administration official.

Ah yes, let's not overlook the importance of branding a national security strategy. Sure, Trump's policy towards ISIS will be the same as Obama's, but officials have now been tasked with identifying ways it might appear different.

read more

Image: U.S. President Trump celebrates with Republican House members after healthcare bill vote at the White House in Washington

Every GOP health plan has something in common: Trump's backing

07/06/17 10:45AM

Senate Republican leaders missed two related, self-imposed deadlines last week. First, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies originally planned to hold a vote on their regressive health care overhaul on Thursday, but they had to retreat when the bill fell short of 50 votes.

Second, McConnell and the GOP leadership planned to craft a bill by Friday that enjoyed enough Republican support to pass, send it to the Congressional Budget Office, and then vote on it when senators return to Capitol Hill next week. That plan quietly fell apart, too.

That said, McConnell did send a proposal to the CBO for a score -- it's like the original bill, only with changes recommended by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) -- not because it has enough support to pass, but because the CBO's report would produce information that could prove useful as the deliberations continue.

Donald Trump and his team are already on board with Cruz's version.

The White House is backing a health care proposal that would make it easier for insurance companies to avoid complying with consumer protection standards, siding with some of the most conservative senators, though Senate Republican leaders remain leery of the idea. [...]

Under the proposal, insurers could sell almost any kind of health plan they wanted as long as they also offered at least one plan that complied with federal mandates like those in the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for maternity care and mental health services.

Obviously, the details of Cruz's approach matter, but it's a little tough to scrutinize right now. The New York Times ran a good overview yesterday on the outline of the Texan's plan, but the details haven't been released to the public, so there's a lot we don't know about its effects.

But while we wait to hear what the CBO has to say, let's pause to ask a different question: have you noticed just how eager Trump World is to support literally every Republican plan?

read more

Image: CIA Director David Petraeus Rings The Opening Bell At The New York Stock Exchange

David Petraeus: Trump's fitness for office is 'immaterial'

07/06/17 10:11AM

Retired Gen. David Petraeus appeared at the Aspen Idea Festival last week, and fielded an awkward question about Donald Trump. His answer, however, is worth considering in detail.

As the Washington Post reported, political affairs scholar David Rothkopf noted at the event that, throughout his lengthy career, he never confronted questions from foreign officials about "whether or not the president of the United States was fit to serve and whether or not the president of the United States was actually mentally ill." Now, however, with Trump in the White House, such questions arise "every couple of days from senior leaders around the world."

Rothkopf's question for his fellow panelists was straightforward: "Do you think the president of the United States is fit to serve as president?" Given a chance to answer, Petraeus didn't seem at all eager to respond.

"As I used to say in uniform, that sounds like a policy question. [LAUGHTER] And look, I think it's immaterial. Again, what I'm focusing on is the team. [GROANS]

"Let me explain. You know, pronouncing yes or no, I don't think that changes a darn thing. What I'm pointing out is that around him, he has a very good team...."

From there, Petraeus went on to say he sees elements of this administration's foreign policy with which he broadly agrees.

The response, while evasive, is nevertheless telling.

read more

Donald Trump, Kris Kobach

Trump administration raises alarm with dubious voting inquiries

07/06/17 09:20AM

Donald Trump's voting commission, led in part by notorious voter-suppression pioneers such as Kansas' Kris Kobach, sent letters to every state in the nation last week, requesting full voter rolls, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits, and voting history for every voter going back more than a decade.

The move, not surprisingly, faced broad, bipartisan opposition -- though the Trump administration prefers not to look at it that way. The White House issued a written statement yesterday, on Kobach's behalf, that read in part, "While there are news reports that 44 states have 'refused' to provide voter information to the Commission, these reports are patently false, more 'fake news.'"

We can certainly debate the semantics of the word "refused," but Trump's commission made a request for expansive amounts of information, and as of yesterday, officials in 45 states said they would either ignore the request or limit the responses to public data. There's nothing "fake" about this.

But let's not forget that Kobach's letter wasn't the only correspondence Trump World sent to states last week related to voting. The Huffington Post noted yesterday:

The DOJ sent the letter to 44 states last Wednesday, the same day the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter controversially requesting personal voter information. The DOJ letter requests that election officials respond by detailing their compliance with a section of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), which covers 44 states and was enacted to help people register to vote, but also specifies when voters may be kicked off the rolls. [...]

Former Justice Department officials say that while there's nothing notable about seeking information about compliance with the NVRA, it is unusual for the department to send out such a broad inquiry to so many states seeking information. Such a wide probe could signal the department is broadly fishing for cases of non-compliance to bring suits aimed at purging the voter rolls.

And given that the Justice Department's letter was sent to states literally on the same day as the ridiculous "voter integrity" commission sent its letter to states, it's hardly a stretch to see them as a coordinated Trump administration push.

read more

A Hobby Lobby store in Denver on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

Hobby Lobby becomes controversial for an entirely new reason

07/06/17 08:40AM

There was a point in which Hobby Lobby was just an arts-and-crafts retail chain. Those days, however, are long gone.

Hobby Lobby, owned by Christian conservative Steve Green, rose to political and legal prominence when the company argued that its corporate spirituality entitles Hobby Lobby to deny contraception coverage to its employees. Green also made headlines for creating a Bible curriculum to be used in public schools.

But Hobby Lobby's owners have also become known for collecting rare artifacts for a new museum dedicated to the Bible, which is scheduled to open later this year just a couple of blocks from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. What we didn't know is how Green and his family obtained those artifacts.

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby will pay $3 million to settle a federal case over smuggled Iraqi antiquities it bought to demonstrate its "passion for the Bible."

The Oklahoma-based retailer also agreed to forfeit thousands of clay artifacts it bought in 2010 -- an acquisition that prosecutors said was "fraught with red flags" the company didn't heed.

Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes" in a written statement.

read more

Image: First Lady Melania Trump Hosts A Celebration Of MilitaryMothers Event

Trump doubts Russia's role in 2016 attack, mocks US intel agencies

07/06/17 08:00AM

When it comes to Russia's attack on the American elections, the Kremlin wants nothing more than for U.S. officials to raise doubts about Russia's role. Every time an American tries to shield Vladimir Putin's government, or suggests others may bear responsibility, he or she is effectively defending Russia's crimes by boosting the Kremlin's propaganda strategy.

And with that in mind, it was extraordinary to see Donald Trump once again question Russia's role in the attack. The Washington Post reported:

"I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it could well have been other countries, I won't be specific," Trump said at a news conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda. [...]

"Nobody really knows," Trump added. "Nobody really knows for sure."

The American president's lengthy response meandered for a while -- it included extensive whining about Barack Obama, a rather dramatic break with protocol for a sitting president appearing on foreign soil -- and eventually included mockery of American intelligence agencies.

"I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq -- weapons of mass destruction," Trump said. "How everybody was 100 percent sure that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Guess what? That led to one big mess. They were wrong and it led to a mess."

read more

Pages

About The Rachel Maddow Show

Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.

MaddowBlog_Appendix_logo

#Maddow

Latest Book